The last day of Ramadan is almost here. The sighting of the new moon, which we know will occur on either July 28th or 29th of this year, will signal the end of this Holy month of fasting, and the beginning of the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Nothing much more than a blip on the calendar if you're living in the West, but quite an event if you're living in the Middle East.
Today marked the last day of work for a number of larger national companies in Qatar (mostly oil and gas) for the next 9 days. For the public sector (government ministries and entities), that break will extend to 11 days. I guess it just simplifies things to declare the entire week off (the workweek here is Sunday-Thursday) even if the Eid holiday only officially begins on Monday or Tuesday, particularly since there will be very few office workers, either expatriate or national, left around to work in country next week.
I would actually hazard a guess that tonight marks the busiest night of the year for Qatar's brand new Hamad International Airport. No doubt the holiday seekers are arriving at the new departures terminal en masse, anxious to climb aboard a freedom bird and trade in the August sand and heat for a blue sky and cooler temps (anything below 38C will be a welcome relief).
Doha, the capital of Qatar, will come to a virtual standstill over the next week. Festivities will be had and restaurants will re-open during daylight hours, bringing a close to the month of daytime fasting but not to nighttime revelry. Over the next week, celebrations will last through the day and night as the city and the country prepare for a return to normal following a month of lull.
As everyone anxiously awaits the escape and the celebrations, I find myself almost mourning the end of this period of calm. I've spent every Ramadan in-country since moving to Qatar, and usually find myself going stir-crazy by the end of the month, but this year Ramadan has proven oddly soothing and healing. It's been a welcome calm after months of storm.
I've become more productive at work. I've smiled at people who've cut me off mercilessly in traffic. I've increased my water intake (behind closed doors so as to be mindful of those who are fasting, of course). I've started physically training in earnest. I've spent more time laughing with Kiddo. I've spent more time walking with Smilin' Vic. I've rediscovered a love of writing. I've swapped pouring an evening glass of wine for juicing. I've tried some new recipes. I've cleaned out the messy spare room. I've given clothes to charity. I've read some books. I've slept like a baby. I've almost forgotten what lower back pain and sciatica feel like. I've caught up on episodes of Come Dine With Me. I've pushed my limits in an attempt to gain an appreciation for all I've been blessed with. I've challenged myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I feel more alive and motivated than I've probably felt in the last two or three years.
This will be the first time ever that we don't be going anywhere for Eid, not even to a local hotel. Yet I'm not envying those boarding a flight tonight. I'm not envying those who will break fast on Monday or Tuesday with a weeklong celebration. I'm fully appreciating the greatness of being exactly where I am in the moment, whatever this day may bring.
Though I've not been fasting, I've been mindful throughout the last month. I've actually put some thought into what passes my lips, whether it be words or food or drink. I've focused on what I want to do, what I can do, rather than on what I wish I could do. I've gained a renewed appreciation for my family, my job, my friends, my faith, my health, my body, my mind.
And I'm selfishly scared to lose the feeling.
I'm holding fast, but I'm scared. Scared to sink into the depths of despair that gripped me last April and May, scared to forget everything I'm so grateful for. Scared to forget how to be thankful for the little things that really matter.
I'm holding fast to the mindfulness, and praying that I'm back to the 'me' I used to be, and that this isn't a phase.
I'm not fasting.
But I'm holding fast.